Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A.D. After Disclosure: A typical book spinning mundane conspiracy theories that are not well-thought out -- also painfully dull, padded, wordy and bland

Review by KEN KORCZAK

This book reads like it was written by a couple of teenage boys who just had their minds blown by the latest super-cool Star Trek movie, and then decided to start a super-cool blog so they could riff about all the cool possibilities of dealing with hostile aliens.

But it doesn't even have that fun infectious enthusiasm of jazzed-up fanboys.

A.D. AFTER DISCLOSURE is depressing and boring. It's also riddled with factual errors and egregiously bad logic. It's hopelessly naïve.

Perhaps worst of all, it offers nothing in terms of new, inside information on the UFO issue. The rare tidbits it does offer are so stupid and laughable they're like something out of a Saturday Night Live skit. Here, I'll give you an example:

The authors offer:

A British "scientist," whom they do not name, says that his grandfather was a bodyguard for Winston Churchill during World War II. This bodyguard managed somehow to eavesdrop on Churchill having a top-level meeting with General Dwight Eisenhower. This bodyguard overhears their private conversation in which Churchill tells a story - whom he heard from someone else -- about a military pilot whose aircraft was buzzed for a few minutes by a UFO.

This bodyguard then blabs it to his daughter -- who is then age 9 -- yes, he tells his 9-year-old details of a private meeting between the Prime Minister and the Supreme Military Commander of WWII Europe.

Then - years later - eventually -- this daughter grows up, gets married and finally gives birth to "the scientist" who one day hears the story from his mother - you know, the story she heard at age 9 from her loose-lipped eavesdropping bodyguard dad -- who overheard two leaders of the Free World discuss a second-hand report from an anonymous World War II pilot who saw a UFO.

More years go by during which time the boy grows up, apparently goes through years of college - and at last becomes "a scientist" - and voilà! -his story can finally be told! His information finally trickles into this book after the authors read it in -- wait for it - wait for it - a British 'Red Top' tabloid, The Daily Mail!

Yes!

The Daily mail, a paper known for its sensationalism and fondly referred to by local Brits as "The Daily Fail"!

Woooo-hoooo!!!! Take that, skeptics!

Speaking of newspapers and journalism, the authors' understanding of the media and the role of the press in society is abysmally simplistic.

On the one hand:

In typical conspiracy theory fashion, they maintain that a significant portion of those in positions of media power are on the payroll of the CIA, or some other nefarious government black-ops service. Hand-in-hand with government spooks, and with pockets full of payola cash, these paid-off media operatives are expertly killing key stories, and also seeding well-placed disinformation stories to masterfully social engineer the perceptions of the public on the UFO issue. Yes! It's that easy!

On the other hand:

They repeatedly accuse the press of being "lazy," "too timid," "hysterical," "asleep at the switch," "unwilling to challenge or confront powerful people" - in short, a gaggle of incompetent, pandering, lazy boobs who would rather stick to the easy stuff, you know, like the topics that shape people's daily lives, such as crime, the economy, covering local school boards and city council meetings, transportation, poverty, social injustice- the distracted lazy bums!

RICHARD DOLAN AND BRYCE ZABEL want it both ways - when they need the media to be a powerful, organized, efficiently competent manipulator of the minds of an entire nation, then the media is an entity of frightening power, efficiency and intelligence. But when they want to moan about the lack of media attention to the UFO issue, the media then becomes a "lazy," "timid," "unwilling," and "asleep at the switch" -- a mass of bungling gomers who helplessly pander and suck up to powerful government agents.

But notice when the authors need to provide a citation for one of their claims, they gladly pluck an item from a cheesy mainstream media British tabloid and serve it up to their readers.

The authors also pass on a dubious bit of information which is often repeated but which has been thoroughly debunked as -- if not untrue - at least improvable- and this misinformation is that former CIA director William Colby director said, "The CIA owns everyone of any significance in the major media."

Again, Colby never said this, it has been all-but proven that he never said it, and those who care to Google this issue and check on it will see that I am right - and the authors should have Googled it and checked it too - but either they didn't, or didn't care to, but were happy to pass on this disinformation anyway.

Okay, but now wait a minute - don't the authors cite an excellent Rolling Stones article by the mighty Carl Bernstein who showed in great detail how the CIA once recruited reporters and infiltrated all of the major news institutions, including the New York Times, Time Magazine and others? And don't the reporters themselves admit - even the owners and editors of these major news organizations admit - that they had dozens of reporters on the CIA payroll?

Yes, but here are the facts: Those reporters were not involved in writing stories for consumption of the American public, or involved in shaping public opinions by seeding stories- stories that were dictated by CIA spies - and especially not stories about UFOs.

Rather, the CIA was using real reporters as covers to act as spies mostly to snoop on other governments around the world, especially the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The CIA was saying to reporters things like, "Hey, since you're going to Yugoslavia anyway to do a story about agriculture, will you check to see how many paved airports they have and how many Soviet aircraft you see while you're there, and let us know when you get back?"

Furthermore, when it became well-known that major media outlets were renting out reporters to act as part time information gatherers for the CIA, Congress objected to the practice and ordered that this kind of activity be ended - which it did - some 35 years ago.

If you don't believe this, and if you still think the CIA has an iron grip on the American Press, then ask yourself:

* Why didn't the CIA stop the New York Times from publishing the Pentagon Papers, a devastating blow to the Vietnam War effort, and major embarrassment to the U.S.?

* Why didn't the CIA stop the Washington Post and New York Times from knocking off President Nixon himself, the Vice President and other top power brokers over the Watergate break-in scandal? Nixon as Commander-In-Chief and top guy of everything had the CIA at his bidding.

* Why didn't the CIA stop the Washington Star, New York Times from revealing the heinous Tuskegee Experiment scandal in which government creeps secretly infected black men with venereal disease so they could study them?

* Why didn't the CIA stop Rolling Stone from running Bernstein's CIA/journalists Cold War connections article?

* Why didn't the CIA stop the New York Times from breaking the Iran-Contra Affair, which was partly a CIA operation?

* Why didn't the CIA stop the media when it uncovered and published the story of Nixon's Secret Bombing of Cambodia, My Lai Massacre, CIA involvement in Bay of Pigs Invasion, 9/11 government incompetence?

* Why didn't the CIA stop Dana Priest of The Washington Post for her persistent, painstaking reports that uncovered the secret CIA "black site" prisons in foreign countries and other controversial features of the government's counter-terrorism campaign?

* Why didn't the CIA stop Barton Gellman of The Washington Post for his authoritative and provocative coverage which blew the lid off the lie that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, embarrassing the CIA to a huge extent, and revealing the CIA as incompetent?

Yea, verily, so it would seem that, despite what authors Dolan and Zabel would have you believe, the CIA is not as all-powerful, and so in control of the press as they say. Also there are clearly a lot of reporters out there who are hungry, eager, unstoppable and constantly driving hard at the hoop, lusting after fame, a Pulitzer Prize and the truth -- and they have nailed the CIA and embarrassed it again and again, decade after decade, on the very biggest stories.

Yet, the suggestion in this book is that there is not a single journalist - among many thousands - who is willing to dig deep enough to find out the truth about what the government knows about UFOs and alien technology - that all the reporters are either "under control and paid off" and/or "too lazy."

Yeah right. What a crock.

Ken Korczak is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"Antiques Don't Bounce" by Richard Bullivant is a breezy, delightful read

Review by KEN KORCZAK

This is a delightful book because it manages to achieve what few books do: It makes the ordinary seem extraordinary. ANTIQUES DON'T BOUNCE by British author RICHARD BULLIVANT is proof that craft of writing will never go stale as long as there are authors who can look around their ordinary worlds with a sharp eye and tell us about what they see and experience in a way that seems magical.

The story follows the journey of a young college student seeking a business degree performing a mandatory year of work service in the real world of doing an ordinary job. Out of sheer lack of direction he drifts into a bottom-basement, entry-level position with a firm whose primary function is transporting antiques. It’s basically a glorified moving company, or what the Brits call “a removal service” although what they move in this case is often unique and highly valuable. The year is 1977.

This is not a plot driven book, and the view-point character is merely a voice in the background. But think of it more like Homer’s Odyssey. In that epic tale Ulysses find himself blown off course, cast away and thrust into a vast world of strange unknowns. He encounters bizarre characters and experiences strange new lands.<> In this case, the sprawling London firm, Lloyd & Taylor Ltd., is the ocean, and our student, like Ulysses, is tossed about from department to department to work as a common gopher or more accurately: a jack-of-do-whatever-we-tell-you-to-do. Like Ulysses, he grapples with confounding situational problems and meets eccentric (or comically dull) characters in each department.

Richard Bullivant
Bullivant’s ability to bring alive common folks as vibrant, fascinating characters is a primary strength of this book. You’ll meet drab clerks, salty truckers, smooth salesmen, cagey warehouse workers, a boozed up messenger grunt, prissy art dealers, small-town blokes – each an absolute enchantment.

The author is also able to convey to the reader a marvelous feeling – such as the joy of a breezy drive through the countryside on a lovely spring day – in a way that makes you feel you’re actually riding along on a lark through Merry Old England. It’s great escapism,

As the year comes to an end, I have read and written reviews for more than 100 books, and Antiques Don’t Bounce easily makes my Top 10. If this book doesn't find best-seller status, I hope it achieves a significant niche audience or cult following. It’s the kind of book that you “discover” and makes you feel like you found a gem.

Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Hidden" by Dublin-based writer Derick Parsons features murder and insanity and characters that are at once normal, neurotic, troubled and heroic

Review by KEN KORCZAK

Meet Kate Bennett - she's a train wreck.

She's a swirling mass of neurotic self-doubt, self-questioning, self-loathing and inner confusion. She's has problems with men, problems with her job, problems with her co-workers, problems with her past, problems with her country and society. She's lonesome - she is a festering boil of dysfunctional angst - she occasionally gives into delicious, lusty sex which makes her hate herself - she seems an excellent candidate for a truck load of Valium and a future straight jacket.

Yet, her job is that of psychologist! That's right! Kate Bennett, Ph.D, is a counselor charged with healing the maladjustments of her fellow man!

Why not!

You have to admit, it makes for a great fictional premise. The blind leading the blind, as it were. Of course, most of us have always suspected this is the case anyway in real life - that no one is more screwed up than a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Anyway, that's the best thing about this book, HIDDEN, by Irish writer DERICK PARSONS. All fiction is based on character and I give the author and A+ for creating the beautiful Kate Bennett, a walking contradiction. I did mention she is drop-dead gorgeous and a sizzling sexual lioness, right? Well, she is. She attracts men like flies.

Unfortunately, these men are barely above the evolutionary scale of the common house fly - sleazy politicians, sexual deviants, criminals, and fellow psychologists with brains ruled by their testicular organs.

The trouble for me is that I can't decide if this book is supposed to be a standard romance novel or a murder-mystery thriller. It's actually a combination of both, and there's nothing wrong with this, except that, for my tastes, the author is unable to hold it together in an effective way.

Derick Parsons
The vast majority of the book is intensely internal - it dwells constantly on the tortured mental self-dialogue of Kate Bennett. She is in a perpetual state of self-questioning and misgiving. She's can't understand herself, but she squirms and struggles heroically to find clarity and change.

The problem is that this voluminous inner dialogue often becomes tedious. I think most readers will grow frustrated or exasperated as we listen in on Kate Bennett endlessly, yet fruitlessly self analyzes herself, questions her every move, doubts her every thought, second-guess her every motivation.

The author manages to cobble together a fairly reasonably complex and compelling murder mystery plot - the key to which is centered on a deeply-troubled mental patient - a shockingly lovely 18-year old girl who unfortunately can't help because she is mostly catatonic or too delusional to be of value.

But the entire plot collapses upon itself at the end like a house of cards. It does so because of the way the "big finish" scene is choreographed. To say the least, the denouement is not skillfully handled - and I mean really not skillfully handled at all. That's a shame because it tarnishes the rest of what is a well-written, well-conceived book with characters that are interesting and vivid.

My impression is that some readers will find this a 4- or 5-star read, while others will drop out well before the final chapters and rate it a 1-star read. To that end, I split the difference and offer three stars - and I will add that I believe Derick Parsons to be a deeply skilled writer with a brilliant future -- a brilliant future indeed.

Ken Korczak is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Free ebook: "The Inner Consciousness: How to Awaken and Direct It" by Swami Prakashananda is well worth the read

Swami Prakashananda
Review by KEN KORCZAK

This short manuscript published in 1921 is an extremely brief introduction about what it takes to expand your mind, your view of who and what you are, and seeks to explain the true nature of what we call "consciousness." It's nothing fancy but that's why it's a marvelous little document.

The approach is matter of fact and no nonsense. Swami Prakashananda takes a topic many would consider "cosmic" or "esoteric" or "mind-expanding" and boils it down to practicality. It's lean and no-nonsense. It's not lofty or New Agey, nor does it take off into soaring poetic flights of wordy wonder extolling the glories of "enlightenment."

Rather, the Swami just lays it out: This is what you must understand, this is what you must do, and by the way, it won't be easy, so dang it, get to work on it! It takes time and hard work to clear away the cobwebs of delusion. Nothing worthwhile comes easy, the Swami reminds us, and that includes getting beyond your limited, purely objective mind.

Perhaps what I like the very most about Prakashananda's tactic here is that he emphasizes that you should not accept anything on faith; don't believe anything that you can't absolutely prove to yourself by your own direct experience. Most other religious tracts urge you not to question; they demand simplistic belief in what you're told or what some ancient books proclaims. The Swami urges just the opposite. Great!

Some limited research on my part reveals that Swami Prakashananda came to the U.S. in about 1906 to work at the San Francisco Vedanta Center. He worked there as an assistant until 1914. He served under Swami Trigunatita, who was assassinated in a bomb blast set off by a "derranged ex-member" of the Vedanta Society. (READ MORE)

By 1914, however, it seems the Swami had developed some differences with the San Francisco organization and established his own center, called the Pacific Vedanta Center. He was highly regarded and some pleaded with him to return to the San Francisco Center, an offer he firmly refused.

I have as yet been able to find out more about Swami Prakashananda, who is not to be confused with a Swami of the same or very similar name who was convicted of sexual crimes just a few years ago.

At any rate, this is a terrific read, just 32 pages or so, and you can get it free here: FREE EBOOK: SWAMI PRAKASHANANDA

Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH

"Progeny" by Patrick C. Greene follows a tried and true formula for a scary monster yarn featuring the legendary Bigfoot, but a tad too much formula for me

Review by KEN KORCZAK

As a person who reads more than 100 books a year, it's easy for me to quickly spot patterns and formulas after reading just the first chapter or two of a novel. So it swiftly became apparent that PROGENY would deliver its plot in tried and true, but familiar formulaic fashion -- and it does so to the end.

There's nothing wrong with writing a formula or genre novel as long as the rendering is skillfully handled by the author, and PATRICK C. GREENE manages that here.

On the other hand, such a book will necessarily embody a certain blandness. Think of it like going to a fast food restaurant: It's familiar, you go there because you like it; you know what to expect; the food will be good enough; you'll get full and happy with the price -- but you won't fool yourself into believing that you just feasted at a fine bistro.

Progeny is like good fast food. It reads much like a made-for-TV movie screenplay for the Science Fiction Channel. All the standard props are here: (a) some unsavory, despicable bad guys, (b) some sweet and nice good guys, and, (c) a monster in the wilderness. I don't have to tell you what is going to happen, do I? Okay, I will anyway, and don't worry, there's no need for a spoiler alert warning because you already know the formula. You've seen it a thousand times. It goes this way:

Patrick C. Greene
Some of the bad guys - out of hubris, greed, or both - will be horribly mangled and killed by the monster. The good guys will be in grave danger, but they'll come out okay after some close scrapes and terrible frights. The bad guys will be at odds with the good guys to bolster the subplot. Speaking of subplots, you know there will be a lovely female character - one of the evil guys will have the hots for her --but she'll fall in love with the good guy somewhere along the way. This will make the evil guy even madder and creates more tension.

The good guys will emerge from their harrowing encounter with the monster enlightened, amazed, humbled and giddy to be alive. The bad guys? Most of them will be dead. Their manner of dispatch will be painful, bloody and shocking.

So in Progeny the "monster" is Bigfoot, or Sasquatch, if you prefer. But you could switch in just about any creepy beastie -- the Creature of the Black Lagoon, a giant ant, a mutant man-mosquito hybrid, chupacabra, a space-alien fiend - and everything would play out more or less the same.

Sometimes you're in the mood for a popcorn movie, or a decent but basic page-turner you can read on the beach. Well, when you're in that kind of mood, and you like scary monster stuff (like me) - this book is your choice.

Ken Korczak is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Free ebook gem: "The Mosstrooper: A Legend of the Scottish Border" by Robert Scott Fittis is a marvelous, authentic document that entertains

Review by KEN KORCZAK

Mining the hoary ebook files of Project Gutenberg is like panning for gold. Every once and a while you wash up a shiny nugget. Such is the case with THE MOSSTROOPER: A LEGEND OF THE SCOTTISH BORDER by Robert Scott Fittis.

Fittis was a writer’s writer and a Scotsman’s Scott. Born in 1824 in Perth, Fittis took to his pen early in life; he completed Mosstrooper at the age of just 17. That's astonishing considering the shimmering quality of this short novel. It should be noted, however, that Fittis revised this work years later after many decades of writing and publishing volumes for local “penny papers.”

The Mosstrooper was originally published in serial fashion, as were just about all of Fittis’ works that eventually became books. Fittis was a master of keeping his audience of fellow Scotts enthralled. I have been unable to find significant ancillary information about Fittis, so I’m uncertain if he achieved recognition beyond his regional popularity. He died in 1903. What’s beyond doubt is that he ascended to the status of legend within his realm – and was widely considered a favorite son of Scotland.

The Mosstrooper is a rather simple tale of tragedy and triumph, knights and damsels, set in late 1400s Scotland. The background scene is what was then the somewhat murky region of what was then the borderlands between England and Scotland. It was a time of powerful lords and barons who were virtual kings in their own right. Although nominally under the sway of the English Crown, they commanded private armies. Disputes among them were a constant source of power games, political maneuvering and war.

This border region produced a mercenary class of soldier called a “Borderer.” They were part outlaw, part Scottish nationalist, opportunistic plunderers, and as Fittis describes them: “ … rough-living, law-defying, rarely out of “sturt and strife.”

The border was also often in dispute not just between England and Scotland, but perhaps even more so among local barons, whether it be Scott against Scott or Anglo against Anglo, and any combination thereof.

What makes Mosstroopers a marvelous book is a deep authenticity engendered by a writer who was a dedicated historian obsessed with researching ancient genealogies, and poring over dusty, yellowed archives, cracking with age. Equally as important: Fittis was an ardent student of the language as expressed in poetry and verse.

Fittis gives us heady doses of the local Scottish brogue, and expertly tunes our ears to the regional enunciations in passages like this:

“Frae sunset to sunset has this hand been feckless as a withered rush,” he said. “In darkness as in licht I ha’e been weak as water. I micht ha’e flung the brat, like a stane, frae the brow o’ a fathomless precipice, never mair to be seen but by the ravens.”

Or here’s another, quoting a “gaberlunzie” which was a kind of itinerant vagabond or hobo of the Scottish countryside:

“It’s a braw and bonnie nicht,” said the begger … “a braw May nicht indeed. Look to the lift – look to the earth – there’s beauty owre a’. See – the parting beams o’ sun linger on the bald, rocky brow o’ yon hill, like a crown o’ glory, while a’ the dell aneath is losing itself in the shadow.”

It’s wonderful. Reading the Mosstroopers is as close as I’ll probably ever get to climbing into an actual time machine and traveling back to the untamed wilds of the English-Scotch borderlands – to a time of knights and barons, bravery and treachery, Scottish heroes and the beautiful maidens who held their hearts.

Ken Korczak is the facilitator of: THE DR. 58 MATERIAL

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Green Age does not break a lot of new ground, but it's message is more urgent than ever -- our planet is in deep trouble and we need to move beyond the Industrial Age

Review by KEN KORCZAK

I'm not giving this book my tip-top recommendation, but this should not indicate to anyone that I do not recommend this book without reservation. I hope everyone buys this book, reads it, and thinks a lot about its central message - that we simply must, as a species, move beyond our current petro-chemical consumerism dominated Industrial Age to a sustainable clean-energy, local organic food and local community-based "Green Age."

If we don't, the human race may not be headed toward extinction, but our children will increasingly find themselves struggling through dreary lives within a dirty, gritty, crowded, violent, dystopian nightmare kind of world.

So why not a full-blown rave for THE GREEN AGE? At this point you can continue to read my discussion or just drop out here and buy this book. Anyway, here I go:

LISTEN:

I'm person who has already largely transformed my life toward living the Green ideal. I grow just about all of my own food. I am blessed to live in a remote rural area, and so I have plenty of room to maintain three modest gardens, on which I produce hundreds of pounds of vegetables. I also keep chickens which lay more eggs than my wife and I can use, and, yes, I butcher chickens in the fall for meat. My chickens have a free-range, Nirvana kind of existence, and a percentage of them meet a blink-of-an-eye end after a blissful summer of chicken fun and freedom.

I do everything without any gas-powered machines (not even a walk-behind tiller) or artificial fertilizers. My chickens supply the manure for the gardens, and the gardens in turn supply them with yummy corn and other stuff to eat the rest of the year. It never ceases to amaze me how a semi-crippled guy like me (I came down with harsh case of arthritis 25 years ago) armed only with a spade and a hoe, can grow so much fresh, organic food, and only working at it a few hours a day from spring to fall. (Our growing season here in northern Minnesota is barely 100 days).

I am also close to moving completely off the grid. I'm about 80% there. I heat my home with dead wood from the trees around my home; I never have to cut a live tree. My wood is sustainable because I can never come close to using more wood than nature can provide locally. But I still want an even cleaner source of heat because wood, while sustainable, is still carbon-intensive. Therefore, I want to advance to solar and/or wind, and I'm getting there - both for heat and basic electricity.

My wife and I grow so much food and my chickens produce so many eggs that we can easily give some away, to friends or a local food shelf. I never use chemicals to deal with insects or other pests. If I have a problem, I mix a concoction of water, garlic, peppers and a tiny bit of dish soap and that takes care of most bugs we have here.

None of the above is by any means my full-time job; I slave away as a freelance writer/journalist 10 hours a day, six to seven days a week. I haven't had a vacation in years, but then, my life is my vacation.

I do have a car; it's an 18-year old clunker that gets about 25 mpg, but I only drive it a short distance maybe once a week. I work at home so I don't need to commute. We don't make a lot of money, but we live well. My wife and I have a small one-bedroom house that's nice, clean and paid for. We have some modern stuff, such as TV (antenna) and Internet (wireless), but not much else. We don't have "big toys" like snowmobiles, motorcycles, ATVS, boats or that kind of stuff.

WHY I TELL YOU

I tell you all this because I want you to know that I am a person who has come a long way toward living the Green Age lifestyle this book is advocating. I want to assure you it's an okay life, but that it comes at a certain price, and I am doubtful that the majority of people today are, as yet, willing to pay the price.

But even if people are were willing to pay the price, there are many difficult roadblocks - practical, psychological, sociological - for them to overcome - although I am proof that it is possible, and many others have done it, and many better than me.

I tell you all this so that you understand that the criticisms I am about to offer are couched in the background of person for whom a Green lifestyle is not an intellectual abstraction, but a day-to-day reality.

The first reason I withhold a top rating is this: There is little radically new information in this book. It's more or less the same points and philosophies I have encountered in dozens of other books, which I began reading in the late 1970s when I was in high school. Back then I read Thoreau, of course, but also such books as "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carlson and "The Greening of America," by Charles Reich and "The Whole Earth Catalogs" of Stewart Brand. Moving on into the 80s I read stuff like "Limits to Growth" by the Club of Rome, and I tended to buy every issue of Mother Earth News. I am also a fan of practically-yet-poetic essayists, such as Wendell Berry, and so on.

Many other books are tangential to the Green Age concept, such as "The Tao of Physics," by Fritjof Capra and "The Re-enchantment of the World" by Morris Berman, "Critical Path," by Buckminster Fuller and "The Day the Universe Changed," by James Burke. These and other books re-examine our fundamental paradigms of time, inter-connectivity, and which call into question the efficacy of reductionism in science and society.

So the Green Age echoes what has been said in a lot of other books -- but I should give the authors a pass on this because perhaps not everyone is as widely read, and so the perspective offered here may be new and enlightening to many.

For me, the biggest drawback is the latter ¼ of the book, or so, when the authors give advice and examples from their own lives which seek to demonstrate the principles they outline.

HYBRID CARS ARE STILL NOT THE ANSWER

For example, one of the authors describes his careful driving practices using his Prius hybrid. First, anyone who wants to strike a true blow for the Green Age would not buy a Prius. He or she would not buy a car at all in favor of walking, biking and using public transportation. The next best choice is to buy a used older model car - (a recycled car!) - that gets decent gas mileage - especially like my two previous cars - the GEO Metro (no longer on the market), which has a 3-cylinder Suzuki engine with mileage that rivals the Prius without requiring the considerable amounts of rare metals and nickel-metal hydride batteries required by the Prius.

Yes, the Prius is a better choice than a new-model conventional car, but the gain is extremely slim when judged on a global scale. If given that both vehicles travel 160,000 lifetime miles, a conventional vehicle requires 6,500 Btu of energy per mile compared to 4,200 Btu per mile for a hybrid, and that's taking into account all parameters, including materials, building the cars, shipping them, etc.

So 4,200 Btus is better than 6,500 but that like a guy who weighs 400 pounds saying he is on a weight-loss plan because he is skipping breakfast once a week.

But wait! The latest Prius models will come equipped with an updated battery system which will enable owners to charge them up by plugging them into the grid, rather than relying on batteries only charged by the gas engine of the Prius. This modification will eliminate any advantage the Prius has over conventional vehicles because 45% of the nation's energy is generated by coal. In this case, a grid-charged Prius will have a net carbon footprint that is greater than a regular car.

To be fair, I think the author's larger point may have been in demonstrating the proper "green attitude" in the way he drives his Prius because he was eschewing an emphasis on time, speed and aggressive driving habits, and this serves as a metaphor for an attitude that should be applied universally to all aspects of our lives and activities.

CHANGING OUR WORLD VIEW

The example of a Prius and careful driving habits is somewhat representative of the other lifestyle examples the authors offer after they lay out their theme. They encourage us to change our general view about the way we model our world and work, and what life should be about. To that end they suggest developing goal-setting behaviors, and they also suggest that we enhance our creativity with activities like meditation and enlisting the power of dreams.

I also have meditated most of my adult life. I began my first session of Zen meditation on May 11, 1981, and have not missed a single day of Zen in more than 31 years. I also am an adept and practitioner of lucid dreaming and leveraging dreams to enrich my life and creativity. I'm all for it.

The point is, dreaming and meditation is fine and dandy - and will make the world a better place if more people practice them - BUT -- there is a certain point when the rubber has to hit the road - and you have to do something. To the author's credit, they exhort the maxim of Gandhi - you must "be the change."

Being the change means doing something solid and real. It means planting a garden, and then actually and truly displacing your "grocery store" foods with the food you grow - and I mean really displace! - it's not as easy as you might think over the long term, and to do it month after month, year after year.

You have to forego driving a car, or actually stop driving the car you have, say, 75% to 90% of the time. Not easy to do, especially if you live in the middle of nowhere like I do. We don't have any trains or buses here, so if you don't drive, you don't go anywhere. You have to be okay with that. But going Green means choosing to shift your life away from the automobile - extremely difficult to do because of the deep and fundamentally entrenched power structures of our society.

And so forth.

But my point is that after an eloquent theoretical statement of what it means to be Green, and outlining what kind of mind-sets, cultural and sociological changes that are needed to bring about a Green Age -- the authors then offer examples of practicality that come off as "Green Lite" (granted, this may be unfair and others might disagree)--

-- it's just that, to practice better driving methods in a $22,000 mass-produced hybrid car built in enormous factories using enormous natural resources simply isn't going far enough -- not nearly -- it's not urgent enough - it's just a teeny tiny nod toward having at least the right attitude -but that's not what this is going to take. (As journalist Fareed Zakaria points out, we can drive all the Priuses we want and use all the spiral compact fluorescent bulbs we can - and India will eat the carbon savings for breakfast and China will finish the leftover savings for lunch.

MEDITATION

As for meditation -- what 31 years of daily Zen meditation has revealed to me is that meditation is not a self-help program. It's not something to make yourself feel good, nor is it a path to some kind of cosmic bliss. What 31 years of meditation reveals is that your feelings may not necessarily be altered by the way you live - whether that be the ultimate Green Age ideal lifestyle, or a carbon-intensive Industrial lifestyle. I have lived both - I am still me. Whether you are living Green or living "dirty" the central dilemma, mystery and fundamental nature of your existence will remain the same. What this means is that a Green Age WILL change society. It MAY NOT change you. It's possible that living Green may make you even more melancholy. That's what happened to me. Or you might be happier. Everyone is different. Whatever the case, you have to come to grips with it. In this sense, the Green Age is a lot like meditation. You don't pursue it to gain something. In fact, if you do pursue meditation to gain something, you'll only get lost. If we pursue the Green Age to bring about bliss and happiness for all - then we're in for a rude awakening - or I should say, we'll never awaken.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Reading a weight loss book will not cause you to lose weight - eating less and exercising will - but you have to do it - yet many people read book after book on weight loss and stay fat, and weight loss is perennially among the best-selling category of book. Reading books about the Green Age will not make it so - you have to do something.

The authors might argue that you have to first rearrange consciousness before action can follow. That may be true, but transforming consciousness does not always or even necessarily lead to real world results. Thinking or reading about change is not change. As Gandhi said you have to "Be the change." To their great credit, the authors make this clear -- and this is what I hope the readers will take most seriously.

Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH

Thursday, October 25, 2012

New Kindle eBook, "Phantoms and Monsters: Cryptid Encounters" by Lon Strickler will please fans of the paranormal despite some bumpy editing

Review by KEN KORCZAK

I'll cut right to the chase and say I enjoyed this Kindle ebook. That's probably because the subject matter interests me greatly. So for its intended audience - folks like me who are fascinated with strange creatures and the eerie phenomenon that surround them - this is a can't miss selection.

I'm not going to give it my top recommendation, however, for reasons I'll explain in just a bit. But first, a brief summary for those who want to know what's in the book:

PHANTOMS AND MOSTERS: CRYPTID ENCOUNTERS is a collection of raw eyewitness accounts of legendary beasties: Bigfoot, mothman, and there's a few serpent-like river monsters and a "little people" encounter thrown in for good measure. Here you will find mostly raw or only minimally edited email letters from average folks who were astounded to encountered strange creatures in their everyday lives.

I should say there is also a number of reports of some really weird sightings - bizzare, peculiar creatures -- some of which I have never heard of before, and for that I add extra praise.

However, the buyer should be aware of what they're getting here: This is not so much a formal book but a series of "cut-and-paste" selections from author LON STRICKLER'S, popular BLOG. And here is where I have some mild quibbles, based mostly on formatting:

The text is not well-edited. Granted, the author wanted to retain the exact flavor of the original reports of folks on the ground, and I applaud him for that. But the dicey production values go beyond just lack of editing to other factors, especially a constantly shifting text size. Sometimes the font size goes from bigger to smaller from page to page, and this makes little sense to me - and for many it will be distracting.

There are also some raw reports that should have been edited a bit more rigorously - the most intriguing and fascinating report involves an Ohio man's encounter with the famous mothman entity -- made even more interesting because his story relates to the famous Silver Bridge collapse disaster of 1967, which killed 46 people.

This entry is exceedingly bizarre, frightening and gripping - but I had to stop and re-read many passages several times to be clear about what they guy was trying to say because his writing was so muddy. If it was me, I would have provided additional editing or perhaps inserted commentary to help the reader understand this man's amazing story.

So, this is an ebook created mostly from a "raw dump" from a blog with minimal formal editing - yet, it still gets a sky-high recommendation from me because the content is so interesting, and contributes valuable information to the record.

Ken Korczak is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Other Pilot by Ed Baldwin is an aviation thriller that gets muddled in the middle, making the plot veer off course for a crash landing

Review by KEN KORCZAK

THE OTHER PILOT is an ambitious attempt to write a thriller novel which incorporates some of the most relevant issues of our day - the banking crisis, the growing mistrust of the U.S. Government, political power, conspiracy theories - all wrapped up in the world of hot-jock fighter pilots who live, breath, sleep and eat flying, fighter jets and all things avionic.

The problem is that the author's skill is not equal to the task at hand. The first three chapters are tight and do an excellent job of setting up a confounding mystery - and the last three or four chapters feature some fine, well-handled action scenes that get the blood pumping.

However, the downfall is the vast muddy middle of this novel. Writer ED BALDWIN, a retired Air Force flight surgeon, loses his grip on the control stick of his plot. He sets out to follow a well-designed literary flight plan, but instead gets lost in heavy fog and crash lands in a swamp teaming with conspiracy theories, right-wing paranoia about the U.N., NRA gun-nut blather, corporate banking scams, and preachy lectures on the innate human superiority of the fighter pilot.

Ed Baldwin
I'm well familiar with pilots. I once worked as communications writer within the aerospace industry. This afforded me the opportunity to meet, interview and interact with some of the most stellar and accomplished pilots of our day.

For example, I met and interviewed the great Scott Crossfield, the first man to break Mach 2. I sat down to a lunch and conversed with an impressive guy -- the Marine aviator James Buchli -- who logged more than 4,000 hours in jet fighters, including combat missions in the F-4 Phantom II. Buchli went on to fly four Space Shuttle missions.

One of my best friends while I worked in aerospace was a Vietnam-era B-52 pilot who happened to grow up in the same small North Dakota town as my first cousin, who was also a B-52 pilot and retired from the Air Force a Full Bird colonel.

But the bottom line is - and this is what those-who-are-absorbed-in-the-bliss-of-Aviation-Salvation-but-who-want-to-be-writers don't understand - is that there are those of us who don't care all that much about airplanes, bombers and fighter jets. We think they're boring. And believe it or not, I really don't think that a man's pilot license can automatically trigger a sexual frenzy in the female human body, or that taking a woman flying in the clouds will cause her nipples to get hard (as happens in this book).

No, I'm a lowly earth-hugging drudge, skulking along in the low-paying gravel pits of the writing business. What really gets my rocks off is a tight plot, a blistering pace, a viewpoint character who is constantly in the clutches of grave danger, and who is fighting tooth and nail, page after page, to defeat the evil forces marshaled against him.

I like of lot of narrow escapes, background maneuvering and intrigue. I don't give a bent wing flap if the plot is driven by fighter pilots or cloistered nuns weaving carpets in Tuscany -- as long as the rendering is compelling and gripping - and keeps me jabbing the Kindle "page-turn button" like a cobra striking a small, furry animal.

This story makes too many unscheduled landings to let the characters kick back with some cold beers, spicy burritos, fried chicken, collard green and the occasional bout of athletic sex. But even great sex and peppery food can be dull if it stalls out the plot and causes a nose dive down to storybook swampland.

If you are among the Aviation Elect, have accepted Frank Borman as your Personal Savior, and believe the only thing that separates you from the slavery of a foreign power is a fleet of demigods stroking the sticks of F-16s armed with 2,000-pound bombs - you may enjoy The Other Pilot. If that's not you, well ...

Ken Korczak is the author of BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

Monday, October 1, 2012

"The Circle and the Sword" by Nigel Mortimer is a rare gem which is an important addition to the field of paranormal investigation, ufology and exploration of mystical studies

Review By KEN KORCZAK

I believe this small book is an important document. It is a genuine, authentic and intriguing addition to the field of ufology and paranormal investigation -- written by an upright “regular bloke” (his words) living day-to-day among what is one of the most important focal points for unexplained phenomenon in the world.

THE CIRCLE AND THE STONE is the story of NIGEL MORTIMER who lives in the North Yorkshire area of England near the fabled ILKLEY MOOR – a sub-realm of greater ROMBALD'S MOOR -- a location of incredible rock carvings and ceremonial stone monuments dating to the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. Other megaliths that have been erected here for reasons unknown and known throughout the ages.

In the late fall of 1980 Mortimer was a carefree teenager working as an office clerk. Suddenly, uninvited, without warning or reason, the home where Mortimer lived began to manifest strange poltergeist activity -- banging noises, doors mysteriously flung open -- and something extremely strange (and almost comical) happened to his sister. Then came the night of November 30 when Mortimer had a personal encounter with one of the famous glowing orbs of Ilkey.

Mortimer at first thought he had experienced merely a brief sighting. He awoke one night "for no apparent reason" and felt compelled to look out his window. In the icy cold skies, Mortimer espies an anomalous moving light -- a spherical object -- which moved across the sky, and then appeared to come straight toward him. He observed the object for a time -- experiencing many strange sensations as he did so -- but mostly forgot about the event upon awakening the next morning.

But in coming days, Mortimer came to feel that his sighting was more than a simple, passive event – the glowing orb seemed to have reached somehow deeply into his psyche, implanting a seed within him that would grow into a powerful and irresistible obsession with the bizarre manifestations of this enchanted region.

NIGEL MORTIMER
Mortimer’s experience was both a blessing and a curse. It seized what was once the life of a "normal bloke" and later responsible father, husband and hard-working family man – and flung him onto the path of obsessed UFO investigator.

Mortimer could scarcely believe what was happening to himself. His first marriage began falling apart; his work life suffered – yet he couldn't set aside his deep fixation. A second marriage would later fall prey to his unstoppable quest as well. It seems that all aspects of the “normal life” for an honest man from a small English village would be consumed by ancient powers inhabiting the moorlands of England.

People have been reporting sightings and encounters with strange glowing orbs Ilkley Moor for uncounted centuries. That this phenomenon exists here is beyond question. The historical record is rife with accounts of bizarre encounters with “energy globes” that have come to be known my many names – “Wi ll-o’- the-Wisp, Jack o’ Lantern (or Lanthorn), Kitty Candlestick and others.

The well-documented historical record of this phenomenon adds credibility to Mortimer’s story – a man who has been living and prowling Rombald’s Moor his entire adult life. He has put his personal credibility and reputation on the line within his community, which adds weight to the integrity of his account.

So this book is not only a must read – but gets my highest recommendation – but now it is time for some tough love – and my tough love message comes in two parts:

First:

The fact is, the technical rendering of the Kindle edition of this book is extremely rough. I would urge the author immediately to implement a thorough editing and reformatting. Much as it pains me, I owe it to the readers of my reviews to warn them that here they will find numerous typos, glitches, uneven formatting to the point of considerable distraction. I won’t belabor this – and so – I leave the issue there.

Second and more importantly:

I believe this book, The Circle and the Sword – as it stands --represents one of the greatest missed opportunities in the history of UFO/mystical/paranormal literature – but it’s still not too late.

Let me explain:

What we have here is one of the best personal stories of UFO/mystical experience encounter in the world. That’s not hyperbole. It’s a story that spans decades, and it is a saga of unquestionable integrity. In the context of history, the quest of Nigel Mortimer is important to the legacy of the region.

So what I’m saying is that this book begs to be so much more.

The combination of Mortimer’s personal story -- the struggles of his personal life, his obsessive quest, his inability to free himself from the powers of Ilkley Moor – combined with the astonishing (and authenticated) mystical phenomenon associated with ancient monuments – cries out to be expanded in deeper, richer detail.

For me, the very best books are those that read like a compelling work of fiction, but are, in fact, true stories. We have the beginnings of that here. Mortimer’s story contains the four primary key and classic ingredients of the best fiction: character, setting, theme and plot.

Consider:

Character – Nigel Mortimer is inexplicably obsessed, thrust unwillingly like an Odysseus into a journey of magical encounter. He is often lost, depressed and feels hope is lost. But he keeps pressing forward on his hero’s journey, finding strength, sometimes glimpsing wonders and joy, sometimes finding unexpected help along the way.

Setting – What could be better? The ancient terrain of Rombald’s Moor, like something out of a Thomas Hardy novel. A scene littered with hoary ancient monuments, redolent with the ages, virtually shimmering with the latent potential of primeval energies – a picturesque, austere, yet beautiful landscape.

Theme – The quest for ultimate knowledge; the challenge of melding the modern ufology with mythology and the genuine, lost esoteric mysteries from the mists of time.

Plot – The main plot is a quest for knowledge and enlightenment. It’s a mission to uncover the secrets of a magical, hidden alternate universe. And there are subplots aplenty – the struggling relationships of Mortimer with his family; his sometimes dicey relationship within a modern community that has lost touch with its magical past and greater reality. Mortimer’s story is an alchemist’s heart-wrenching search for spiritual gold.

Mind you – I realize nobody is asking for my advice – and Circle and the Stone stands as a gem (although must be edited). However, I offer my comments as a fellow writer, journalist and maven of the UFO/paranormal genre who much admires this work, and wants more of it and from it.

Ken Korczak is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA

Sunday, September 16, 2012

LightQuest by veteran UFO investigator Andrew Collins puts an intriguing new spin on what might be going on behind the UFO phenomenon

Review by KEN KORCZAK

LIGHTQUEST is among the most intriguing UFO books I have read in a long time; the author's approach is refreshing, even while traveling a lot of familiar ground. He manages to make ufology interesting again with new spin and perspective.

What's particularly fascinating is that ANDREW COLLINS takes a favorite foil of the most ardent UFO debunkers and turns it back on them - commandeering one of the skeptic's best "go-to-debunking tools" and effectively taking it out of their hands.

What we're talking about here is plasma - as in the natural formations of plasmatic balls of light energy which form as a byproduct of certain geological processes beneath the earth's surface.

Hard-core skeptics, such as Philip Klass, frequently trotted out plasma as a favorite explanation for mysterious lights manifesting in bizarre patterns across the sky and landscape - whether it was the famous "Foo Fighters" which dogged military aircraft during World War II -- or the thousands of encounters with globes or saucer-shaped objects on a lonely road in a remote location as reported by unsuspecting motorists.

Klass often maintained the gullible observers were mistaking natural emissions of plasma light - including stuff like "swamp gas" - for otherworldly aircraft or some other paranormal phenomena. Klass often pointed out that natural plasmas can act in weird and unexpected ways, giving the impression of alien intelligence operating behind them.

Well, Andrew Collins agrees that plasma lights are almost certainly natural formations generated by earth-bound processes, specifically, high pressure faults beneath the surface of the earth. This theory is on solid ground (no pun intended) - such plasma formations have even been recreated in a laboratory setting by applying immense pressure tools to certain kinds of rocks until they burst forth plasma emissions.

But then Collins takes it a step further - or perhaps I should say, several miles further - by suggesting that these natural plasma emissions might actually play host to intelligent life forms -or "light beings" - which leverage the plasma state and manifestation to enter our dimension and plane of existence for short periods of time.

ANDREW COLLINS
If it sounds farfetched, I say read the book: Collins does a marvelous job of providing a solid theoretical model of how a natural plasma formation could be the "temporary body" of trans-human life forms. He brings in quantum entanglement, and also offers physicist David Bohm's "implicate order" as a background framework of how all this could come together.

His theories are backed up with case studies - both famous incidents, such as the Barney and Betty Hill abduction, and the amazing events which took place at the Rendelsham military base in the U.K. - as well as lesser known cases of abduction that are not widely known.

Is this a perfect book? No. There is much I would quibble with - it's not as tightly written or eloquent as one might hope. I also think Collins gets some things dead wrong, such as his conclusion that hypnotic regression is by-and-large unreliable in retrieving memories of "lost time" events as the result of abduction scenarios.

Admittedly, for the past couple of decades, I was in complete agreement with Collins about the quality of information gleaned via hypnosis - until I read the works of Harvard-trained psychiatrist John Mack, who makes a powerful argument in support of hypnosis as a legitimate investigation tool.

There is also the case of the Hills whom were hypnotized by one of the world's best experts in hypnosis, Dr. Benjamin Simon. I would urge the author (and others) to read or review the marvelous book, CAPTURED: THE STORY OF BARNEY AND BETTY HILL written by the niece of Betty Hill, Kathy Marden, along with a co-author, the famed UFO researcher Stanton Friedman. In this book, we see how hypnotic regression - when done right and professionally - includes any number of protocols and safeguards which can screen out imaginative content infecting the narrative of memory.

But like I said - I'm just quibbling here. LightQuest is a terrific, must-read for anyone interested in the UFO phenomenon. Even those well-versed in ufology and who have consumed scads of UFO literature over decades (like me) may learn something new, or maybe see this most enigmatic and confounding of subjects in an all-new light (pun intended).

Ken Korczak is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Awakening's Treasure" by G.A. Codazik is a disastrous, bungling attempt at transcendent prose-poetry

Review by KEN KORCZAK

There is a common saying within the Zen community: “To speak about Zen is to not know Zen.” To write and read about it is to not know it either. Of course, that hasn’t stopped uncounted monks, teachers, lecturers, poets, sages and authors (of all traditions) from spewing millions of words and publishing tens of thousands of pages about – ironically – “that which cannot be named.”

But that’s the way it is. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a paradox. Talking and reading about transcendence will not help you achieve it or get there, but you have to talk and read about it anyway. That’s what’s endlessly weird about “enlightenment” or “full realization” or whatever you want to call it.

However, that doesn’t mean that every book written on this ultimate topic is of equal quality – and this book, AWAKENING'S TREASURE, is an unqualified disaster.

This is a struggling, stumbling, clumsy and muddy attempt to point the way and inspire, but goes fantastically awry on multiple levels.

It’s riddled with imprecise metaphors, clichés and hackneyed phrases, painfully repetitive imagery, and that imagery is pedestrian, pretentious, dull, pompous and boring – and depressingly so.

Let me prove that what I am saying is accurate with selection examples, starting with:

Hackneyed and cliché phrases

EXAMPLE: “We’re drawn to our inner garden/ignoring all else/Like a moth focused only on the flame”

Not only is a ‘moth to a flame’ a hackneyed metaphor, the way it is used here misses the mark.

When we use ‘moth to a flame’, we are generally talking about a negative event, or an unfortunate happening. The moth gets fooled, and then singed or burned to death – yet the author choses this negative cliché to describe how we are drawn to the transcendent state!

Ridiculous!

EXAMPLE: “… when our inner Ocean rains its grace/A rising tide lifts all boats.”

Well! How about a tired phrase gleaned from politics and greedy businessmen? The ‘rising tide’ comment was popularized by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s in reference to his trickle-down economics favoring tax breaks for the extremely wealthy, and has since worked its way into common usage.

The phrase was actually first coined in a speech by President Kennedy in 1962 – and his speech writer borrowed the phrase from some businessmen selling yachts in New England.

But the bigger offense is that ‘A rising tide lifts all boats’ is a dull, overused image that does nothing to inspire – much the opposite, it drags us down by invoking the dull dreariness of life.

I could go on with many more but let’s move on to:

Improper, imprecise language:

EXAMPLE: “Waiting only the turning of our heads to see it, Like (sic) sunflowers tracking the motion of the sun.”

Again, a worn-out metaphor – but also an inaccurate one based on a common misconception – you know – a delusion.

Let’s me tell you as a guy who lives in a rural area next to a large field of sunflowers – they don’t follow the sun. Sunflowers come up facing the sun in the east, and when the sun sets, their faces remain glued to the east.

This from Wikipedia:

This old and chronic misconception was debunked already in 1597 by the English botanist John Gerard, who grew sunflowers in his famous herbal garden: "[some] have reported it to turne with the Sunne, the which I could never observe, although I have endevored to finde out the truth of it.

One of the primary paths to enlightenment involves what spiritual masters call, “just seeing.” That is, just see your world for the way it really is. Don’t overlay your world with pre-formed ideas or what you have pre-conceptualized based on common knowledge – but just perceive directly. So I find it painfully ironic that the author trots out a metaphor based on a common misconception – and a well-known one at that.

That’s inexcusable.

That this is a short book, and that there are so many examples of clumsy usages and utterly bland imagery borders on the astounding.

My rather severe and strict Ninth Grade English teacher, Mrs. Allen, often withered us with her red-penciled condemnations if we allowed “colloquialisms” to slip into our school essays. A colloquialism is a word or phrase that is employed in conversational or informal language but not in formal speech or formal writing.

Mrs. Allen would roll over in her grave if she knew that books like Awakening’s Treasure were on the shelves and floating around as ebooks in cyberspace – it’s almost as if the author made a concerted effort to break the record for the amount flat colloquial usage that could be fit into a limited space.

Just a few of the "dead wood" and "junk phrases" clogging up this manuscript:

"Asleep at the wheel ..."

“All this stress calls out for a cosmic shock absorber …”

“Just running on autopilot with life in overdrive …” (Yet another automobile metaphor, I guess)

“Prime the pump …”

“Dirty laundry is laid bare …”

“Grasping at straws …"

“Crawl out on a limb …”

“Can’t get a word in edgewise …”

“Collapse like a house of cards …

“Providing a wake-up call …”

“Speaking with a forked tongue …”

“A poster child on automatic pilot …” (the author uses both forms, ‘autopilot’ and ‘automatic pilot’, demonstrating again a painful inattention to word choice)

“Emerge from a cocoon…”

“Like a hall of mirrors …”

“Swept under the carpet …”

And there's lots more.

So the writing is either lazy, sophomoric or amateurish, but is there at least some substance delivered in terms of what the book promises – to help people find their way out of the delusional daydream of unreality to a state of transcendent clarity?

The answer is that is offers absolutely nothing of substance. Rather, this document is like a caged parrot repetitively squawking without understanding threadbare phrases which do nothing to illuminate transcendent concepts that have been been known for centuries.

Ken Korczak is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

Monday, August 27, 2012

"The Mystery Experience": Author and philosopher Tim Freke says forget about "full realization" and don't worry about enlightenment; get with Cosmic Love and you'll have all you need

Review by KEN KORCZAK

While I was reading The Mystery Experience by TIM FREKE I kept thinking about how many weight-loss books are published every year. Here in the U.S. we have an obesity epidemic despite the fact that whole forests have been cleared by the weight-loss book industry in past decades and millions of people have read them.

Yet millions are still fat. It this bizarre, or is it something "paralogical," as Freke might call it?

I mean, everyone already knows how to lose weight, right? You eat less and exercise more. That's it. And yet, weight-loss books, some of them hundreds of pages long, keep spewing forth from publishing houses. The armies of the obese keep buying them - looking for that key, that fix, that cure, that "secret" method to stop being fat and flabby!

Why?

Why not just eat less and exercise more? Ask any weight-challenged person and he or she will quickly tell you: "It isn't just that easy!"

Well, I never said it was easy - sure, a few will have hormone or biological component exacerbating their obesity-- but the fact remains that the best way for most to lose weight is no secret at all -- to eat less and exercise more.

So wherever you find an agonizing problem with a simple solution that people cannot accept, you will find an almost unlimited opportunity to sell thousands of books that talk about anything but the most simple solution to the problem - and the more elaborate the solution the better.

That's sort of what this book, THE MYSTERY EXPERIENCE, is. It's an extremely elaborate solution to a universal problem - except that the solution is about a billion times more elusive than the "secret" to weight loss - making it all the better for the book seller and seminar promoter.

Tim Freke
The problem here is what Buddha called the "Dukkha" - the dull, aching misery of daily life that we all feel, which sometimes inflames into true suffering, only to recede again, but never completely. I like the way the great American writer Henry David Thoreau put it: "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

Tim Freke experiences this too. His solution is to not deny the Dukkha, or meditate it out of existence -- just the opposite - he opts to acknowledge it, embrace it forever, and use it - as a "paralogical" lever to induce a communion with that ultimate source of cosmic bliss, the Universal Loving Energy or Consciousness of All That Is, God, or whatever you want to call "IT."

His solution is a positive addiction to what he calls the "WOW!" experience.

Resorting to an addiction is a common and desperate attempt to fight the Dukkha. Some people drink, some take drugs, smoke a lot of pot, others watch TV and play video games. Some practice meditation or give themselves over to the teaching of a guru. Some people eat, become obsessed with accumulating money, and some flit off to an Amazon rainforest to imbibe in hallucinogens with a jungle shaman. Some buy into a mainstream system of religion, others try to have all the sex they can have before they die.

Certainly, some addictions are positive addictions, while others are negative and destructive. But in the end, an addiction is an addiction. Like Deepak Chopra said: "A positive mind is still an agitated mind."

Tim Freke has opted for a positive addiction - to that ineffable experience of cosmic bliss of Ultimate Love. He was fortunate to have this "WOW" thing drop spontaneously upon him like a bomb when he was 12, which led him to commit the rest of his life to pursuing more of the same, and to figuring out just what all that WOW is and what it means.

But wait a minute - is Tim Freke's addiction to something that is real, or is it an elaborate self-delusion? Well, yes and no.

Clearly, the Cosmic Love he speaks of is well-documented throughout history and throughout all cultures- and while IT could never be nailed down in a laboratory setting - I am satisfied that there truly is an ultimate field of energy that is pure love and that we are all connected to it, whether we know it or not. In a deeper sense, however, it's still a delusion when we experience it - but so what? The fact that it's a delusion doesn't make it bad - something that is not real cannot be good or bad.

So is there anything wrong, then, with a guy like Time Freke being addicted his quasi-delusional Universal Field of Love and basking in its all-embracing warmth and joy?

There's nothing wrong with it.

It makes him feel good, and if he can teach it to others, a lot of other people will feel very good, too. Indeed, Tim Freke makes his living writing and selling books about Cosmic Love - and also conducting seminars throughout the world, which anyone with something like $45 to $90 can attend, not including travel and hotel expenses. No harm done, I say.

My only purpose here is to point out what is manifest: Like weight loss books, thousands of people will read Tim Freke's books, thousands will attend his seminars, and he'll write even more books, and people will buy them too. And then they'll continue to buy dozens of other such books by other writers. Hundreds of books offering salvation from the Dukkha will endlessly grind out of the publishing mills or be produced by self-publishers - and millions will keep buying them.

Does it sound familiar? It sounds like the weight-loss book industry wherein millions are sold and the problem always remains. The "secret" is ever elusive. It reminds me of what Jesus said: "The poor will always be with us."

And as long as there are the poor - spiritually and materially - there will always be a Jesus figure. And as long as the Dukkha remains manifest in the experience of human consciousness, there will always be a Tim Freke with a book and a seminar at the ready - and lots of others, too.

Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Free mystery novel ebook: "The Mystery of Lincoln's Inn" is a pure delight, almost certainly based on true events of a major scandal which rocked Canada nearly a century ago

Review by KEN KORCZAK

Robert Machray is described as a writer of “simple-minded mysteries” in the Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction, and this novel The Lincoln’s Inn Mystery would probably qualify as that. In my view, however, it rises above simple-minded. Certainly, this is not a work of literary depth – but it is a well-plotted yarn that is a delight to read and highly entertaining.

What’s even more intriguing is the story behind the novel.

As it turns out, Robert Machray was the nephew of the Anglican Bishop ROBERT MACHRAY, an extremely important figure in Canada from the mid-1800s into the early part of the 20th Century. He was instrumental in the development of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

Bishop Machray was also elected the “First Primate of all Canada” by the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada. He was the bishop of Rubert’s Land” a huge area within the vast land of Canada.

In 1874, Bishop Machray’s two nephews, John and Robert Machray, were sent from Scotland to live under his care. John was educated at the University of Manitoba and went on to become an extremely powerful and later notorious public official in Winnipeg. He was eventually convicted of embezzling and/or misappropriating $1.8 million in funds from a variety of sources. (John Machray)

This was an enormous amount of money in early 1900s Canada, making John Machray something of the “Bernie Madoff” of his time, at least in this region of southern Canada. He died in prison in 1933.

So what’s remarkable to me is that in this tale a criminal British lawyer, Cooper Silwood, has embezzled funds from his own law firm and partners, Eversleigh, Silwood and Eversleigh. It is almost certainly inspired by the machinations of John Machray.

And yet, this book was published in 1910, some 22 years before Robert Machray's brother was finally prosecuted and convicted. It seems amazing to me that author Machray would write a novel that is so obviously based on the shady practices of this brother. One might think the book would have tipped off the Powers-That-Be that something was rotten in Denmark ... er, I mean, Canada!

It makes me wonder if the author was making a kind of back door attempt to flush out his own brother. Like his famous uncle, Robert Machray was ordained clergy of the Church of England. Even though he resigned his clerical duties to pursue the life of a writer, perhaps he maintained a high degree of moral propriety, and thus may have been disgusted about what he apparently knew about his brother.

Anyway, you don’t have to appreciate the extraordinary background to enjoy The Mystery of Lincoln’s Inn. All the juicy elements of a great mystery are here. There’s a dastardly criminal. There are pure-of-heart good guys and women who get caught up in an agonizing web of deceit, greed and corruption. A mysterious death and a jilted lover also thicken the plot and add depth to the narrative.

But what I really liked about this book is a hint of an understated cynical humor. This is almost a black comedy. It’s as if the intelligent, sophisticated and former Anglican minister Robert Machray found the folly of his fellow human beings not just sad, but slightly ludicrous.

The book is set mostly in London, but I was delighted that some of the events take place here in my native Minnesota. I think any lover of mystery novels will find this a first-class read. It hasn't lost it's edge or relevance despite being published more than a century ago.

Note: This book is available as a free download ebook in all formats on the Project Gutenberg site HERE.

Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"One Just Man" by Stan I.S. Law will be a mind expanding feast for some, but others may find it's philosophical theme well-traveled and well-worn ground

Review by KEN KORCZAK

Two central motifs that pervade ONE JUST MAN center on dualism and paradox. And so it is appropriate that my review will be somewhat dualistic and paradoxical. That is, I am going to very highly recommend this book, but I will also offer some rather sharp criticism.

The premise is one common in literature: a man who has a Messiah complex, or a man who really is the Messiah, but doesn’t know it yet. It’s a theme that pops up across all genres: In science fiction there is Michael Morcock’s “Behold the Man” and Philip K. Dick’s “The Divine Invasion.” In New Age literature there’s Richard Bach’s Don Shimoda. In contemporary literature Chuck Palahnuik’s creates Victor Mancini. In classic literature there are many: Camus’ Meursault, for example. Of course, Nikos Kazantzakis reimagined Christ himself in his 1953 classic, “The Last Temptation of Christ.”

In ONE JUST MAN, then, we have Dr. Peter Thornton, a brilliant, up-and-coming Montreal physician who slowly begins to realize his powers of healing go well beyond medical science. He’s a resistant and reluctant messiah, but eventually his “gift’ overpowers him. As the novel progresses, he must accept his fate for what he is.

Because the best fiction is based on character author STAN I.S. LAW scores high marks for crafting a viewpoint character in a way that is subtle yet powerful – but it is another character that looms over every moment of the narrative in an even more subtle and powerful way – the family butler Winston Smith.

Imagine if you could a mix of Batman’s man Alfred with the legendary Hermes Trismegistus. Or maybe if you combined equal amount John the Baptist, Simon Magus, Erwin Schrödinger and Sir John Gielgud – you would then have the mysterious Winston Smith.

The first third of the novel is absorbing because Dr. Thornton's fierce introspective struggles are compelling. We meet a cold-as-ice clinician who is the consummate professional, yet has a penchant for sleazy liaisons; he “relieves tension” by banging nurses in hospital linen closets, only to forget their faces before he gets his pants zipped up. All his off duty time is spent in heartless, robotic study of the chemistry and plumbing of the human body so that he can become the most efficient doctor, more akin to a mechanic of bodies than a healer of people with souls.

To paraphrase Viktor Frankl (echoing any number of Zen masters): “One does not pursue enlightenment; it must ensue.” This is the case with Peter Thornton. The time comes when he can no longer deny the reality that he has the power to heal by touch. His transcendence from ordinary doctor to messianic healer happens quietly but definitely. He doesn’t ask for it, but he gets it.

Thornton suddenly cannot suffer personal material wealth and possessions; prestige means nothing; all goals and graspings drop away. He becomes a simple “faith healer” of men, banishing pain, disease and suffering with a touch.

But then the novel goes drastically off course. Peter Thornton becomes a conduit for healing, but he has no control over his gift. The power of healing nearly kills him, even as it gives life to others. He then is rescued by the mysterious Winston Smith and proceeds to enter upon a long period of convalescence. Unfortunately for the reader, this period of integration involves endless discussion and heady philosophizing with his girlfriend in a remote cabin in the Canadian wilderness.

There’s a lot of lofty philosophical blather, but nothing happens.

All tension is drained from the narrative. Thornton and his partner are free to enjoy food, sex, blissful natural vistas and starlight as they ponder the enigmatic duality of soul and spirit, the paradox of matter as energy, and the numbing conclusion that a particle singularity exists simultaneous as a wave form.

One of the most inexplicable choices the author makes is to reduce Dr. Thornton’s love interest from a brilliant, beautiful, powerful woman crackling with aggressive sexuality into a simpering girlish sycophant – she goes from being one of the world’s most erudite physicists to a mildly confused scrub woman, cook and sex partner for her exulted new Messiah, who adopts the appallingly pretentious (egotistical?) name, Petrus Latter.

I mean, if the original Jesus Christ was as preachy, dull and bordering on maudlin as this guy, it’s little wonder he was crucified.

Stan I.S. Law
What seems to be happening here is that the author has contrived a fictional scenario to serve as a vehicle to deliver his metaphysical determinations – he does an excellent job of creating interesting, vivid characters, but then settles in to string them like puppets, commanding them to chatter on about the nature of human reality, physical reality and consciousness – and about how all of it is informed by implications falling out from quantum theory.

But does the author at least present a sound philosophy and metaphysics? Yes, he certainly does – and he does so with great lucidity and eloquence. Stan I.S. Law is obviously a brilliant guy, and a writer with a great heart. He is a marvelously elegant wordsmith. His prose is effortless and beautiful. However, in the meta-analysis, there is not a single revelation being made here that isn’t already known by a large segment of today’s reading public.

So the measure of how much you enjoy this novel depends on the level to which you understand timeless, universal principles of metaphysics (Vedic, Buddhist and Gnostic Christian ), and your awareness of how modern quantum mechanics appears to support what enlightened visionaries have been shouting out to us for millennia.

If you don’t know a lot of this stuff, you’ll find this book a scintillating, mind expanding feast. But if you already have at least an intellectual understanding of the metaphysical concepts presented here, you might be bored stiff through the last half of the book.

Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH